4 thoughts on “Invasion for dummies”

  1. The point about interstate aggression is relevant to Libya: if there is international intervention in Libya it is more likely to be acceptable and successful in so far as it is intervention against the IS which is largely foreign. That is both the reality, and something which those planning any intervention should do their best to emphasise.

  2. Surely there are a couple of even more obvious lessons from the relative success of Desert Storm as compared to other interventions in the Middle East. One is that it is more acceptable internationally to come to the aid of a sovereign state which is the victim of external aggression than to intervene in a civil war, and a related one is that UN Security Council authorisation is a necessary (though as Libya suggests not always sufficient) source of legitimacy. That said, the success of Desert Storm should not be exaggerated. It left behind a very unstable situation, carrying the seeds of the disastrous 2003 invasion. Personally I believe that, having ejected Saddam from Kuwait, the coalition should not have allowed him to use helicopter gunships to suppress the Shia uprising in southern Iraq, which was a clear violation of the ceasefire terms. It would have been much better for Iraq and the Middle East if Saddam had been overthrown by the Iraqi people in 1991, rather than remaining in power as an international pariah, and source of deep divisions in the international community, culminating in the debacle of 2003.

    1. A comment on Edward Mortimer’s comment (with which I would not disagree). I was a member of the Political Support Staff in the FCO Emergency Unit during the Kuwait Crisis and recall that it was President Bush (the Elder) who called a halt to military operations. The UK pressed for another 24 hours which British commanders believed would enable them to enclose an Iraqi Republican Guard regiment. This was not agreed and the Republican Guards were able to make good their withdrawal. If they had not, the Shia uprising might have had a greater chance of success.

      That said, when I was later HM Consul General in Basra (2006), there was a local vogue for southern autonomy, involving 9, 3 (Basra, Maisan and Dhi Qar) or 1 (Basra) provinces. It was clear to me, and later demonstrated by Nouri al Maliki’s Charge of the Knights, that no government in Baghdad could tolerate a loss of control over its southern oil province and only access to the sea. A successful Shia uprising in the South would have been intolerable to the government in Baghdad, particularly one led by Saddam Hussein and the Baath. It is not difficult to think of several scenarios that could have followed but few of them would have involved stability.

      1. The key issue was that the aim of Op GRANBY was to re-emplace an existing administration, to which Edward Mortimer alludes, and remove foreign invaders.

        Most of the other examples that are cited were invasions replace one administration with another more palatable to the West – and often to go “state building”. Both issues rubbed some (those who had profitted from the ancien regime) or all (who knew the rules of the road) of the locals up the wrong way.

        It could be done in Germany post WWII since the country had been brought to its knees (and potential resistors had to concentrate on survival, rather than terrorism) and because there were several armies of occupation over half a century. The West no longer has that patience.

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